In this context, Basalt.Today interviewed Mrs Patricia Oddshammar, Vice President, Biocomposites, to find out more about the group’s biocomposites business and how it can contribute to the group’s environmental policy.
Basalt.Today: Can you give us a brief description of the group’s scope of activities?
Patricia Oddshammar: Part of the bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper. According to our motto “We believe that everything that is made from fossil-based materials today can be made from a tree tomorrow.”
Basalt.Today: How long have you been interested in biocomposites and how established is the group in this area?
Patricia Oddshammar: After Stora Enso’s decision, in 2012, to close two out of four paper machines at the Hylte Mill in Sweden, an entrepreneurial team started looking into new opportunities and growing business areas. The purpose was to make good use of our competent and qualified employees’ knowledge of fibres, our well working infrastructure, and our excellent wood supply, among others.
Early on, this forward-looking team came up with the idea of producing a biocomposite material and began developing partnerships and workshops with potential clients and other stakeholders in the entire value chain. The team worked in close cooperation with all Stora Enso divisions, as well as universities and research institutes.
We are now well on our way on this journey and developing recipes with our customers for different applications in many different industries. Our biocomposite material, DuraSense®, is a fully-commercialized product family.
Basalt.Today: What is your product range today and its benefits for users?
Patricia Oddshammar: We offer a full portfolio of DuraSense® material families to match a wide range of different plastics, ranging from PP to PA66. Our key driver is providing an affordable way to go green, without major impact on product properties. Our portfolio is developed for products with differing property demands (stiffness, strength, colourability, fully bio-based, food contact approved, etc.) across many different applications. Wood fibre composites in general offer excellent stiffness and, combined with our impact-modified fibres, you benefit from a combination that can compete with engineering plastics.
Basalt.Today: What are the main application sectors and geographical areas where your biocomposite range is present?
Patricia Oddshammar: We currently work with customers using injection moulding (furniture and interior, storage and logistics, toys and childcare, hangers and retail, food contact and packaging, lifestyle and household, building components, industrial and automotive), extrusion (profiles for stables, decking, and cladding) and 3D printing (furniture, windows, and doors).
Our main market area currently is Europe, but we are ready to start our geographical expansion. We are also looking for distributors in Asia-Pacific.
Basalt.Today: Does your offer give you access to new application markets compared to existing composite solutions?
Patricia Oddshammar: DuraSense® offers a truly competitive solution with a high bio-based content, a significantly reduced carbon footprint, a neutral or lower total cost of ownership compared with a great number of plastics, and an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to fossil-based plastics. Compared to wood fibre composites traditionally found on the market, DuraSense® has a wider property span, which makes it a suitable replacement also for more complex plastic materials.
Basalt.Today: Last year, you invested in a Biocomposites Competence Centre. What are its missions?
Patricia Oddshammar: The Biocomposites Competence Centre is designed for pursuing customer-oriented product development, and developing the next generation of DuraSense® biocomposite materials. The Centre has the tools and mandate to better understand our materials and how they behave in different products and processes. It houses a laboratory, piloting facilities, and performance testing capabilities. The Biocomposites Competence Centre will be completed during the last quarter of 2019.
Basalt.Today: What are your medium-term development priorities?
Patricia Oddshammar: Our aim in the mid-term is to increase the use of recycled plastics, introduce new products, further develop properties for 3D printing, and, overall, increase fibre content while maintaining the mouldability of plastics.
Basalt.Today: Are you planning new investments in biocomposites or related activities?
Patricia Oddshammar: We regularly evaluate the business and investment needs in line with our strategy and growth plans.
Companies: Stora Enso
Industries: Other Composite End-use areas